- The Washington Times - Monday, April 22, 2002

Police officers almost outnumbered protesters outside the well-guarded World Bank headquarters yesterday morning. But authorities warn that the long weekend of peaceful demonstration may end on a sour note this morning when some militant protesters plan to lay down in the street to block rush-hour traffic.
"We're going to have problems [today]," said D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. "We don't know what they're going to do, but they're going to do something."
With demonstrations scheduled at the National Mall and U.S. Capitol this morning, and on Connecticut Avenue in Northwest this afternoon, police aren't dropping their guard.
Protesters, calling for an end to U.S. military aid to Colombia, will rally at 7 a.m. at the Washington Monument before marching to Upper Senate Park, near the Capitol.
Police issued permits for rallies at the two locations, but no permits were issued for a march, and officers also are preparing for a "die-in" protesters playing dead in the street near the corner of Constitution Avenue and 14th Street NW.
Eric M. LeCompte, outreach director with School of the Americas Watch, the group organizing the demonstration, said the die-in is meant to commemorate the ongoing massacre of innocents in Colombia.
He said he doesn't anticipate any disruption of traffic on Constitution Avenue, but police are preparing for the worst.
What could dispel Chief Ramsey's concerns is the simple fear expressed by some of being arrested again. Police on Friday arrested 41 protesters on bicycles, charging them with traffic violations and disobeying orders; all were released after paying fines of up to $100. On Saturday, 25 more were arrested and charged with unlawful entry into an underground garage in Northwest.
"I'm not really interested in getting arrested again," said Adam Eidinger, 28, an organizer for the D.C.-based Mobilization for Global Justice who was among the 41 taken into custody Friday.
This morning's demonstrations seek an end to aerial fumigation of crops in Colombia and the closure of the successor to the Army's School of the Americas, Mr. LeCompte said. The school at Fort Benning, Ga., closed in 2000 and was replaced a year later by what he calls a "training ground for Latin American terrorists."
At noon, police will close a stretch of Connecticut Avenue NW, just north of Dupont Circle, where the Committee in Solidarity with the People of Palestine plan an anti-Israel demonstration outside the Washington Hilton. Chief Ramsey last week said he's concerned the protest could draw counterdemonstrators and become violent.
Members of a D.C.-based anarchist group said they'll be on hand supporting pro-Palestinian demonstrators. Some organizers said clashes are expected with police if enough demonstrators try to gain entry into the hotel, where Israeli leaders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee will meet.
While wary of today's protests, Chief Ramsey said he was "not surprised but pleased" with how smoothly the weekend demonstrations went.
A week of demonstrations against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, organized by the same group two years ago, resulted in about 1,200 arrests, but police say no arrests were made during yesterday's demonstrations.
The only incident that required police intervention yesterday occurred when a splinter group of protesters on the Washington Monument grounds turned on the main group that was sitting on the lawn at the Sylvan Theater listening to a folk-rock band.
A shouting match followed, and an American flag held by a protester in the splinter group was set on fire.
U.S. Park Police immediately stamped out the fire, but whoever set it disappeared into the crowd.
There were other indications that some demonstrators, many of whom arrived from around the country, were growing impatient with the peaceful nature of the events.
Katie Renier, 22, of Stevens Point, Wis., took hold of a live microphone after the rally at the World Bank headquarters ended to complain that singalongs and puppet shows were not getting the attention of the global finance ministers. "They're pressing their riot cops on us," she added, motioning to the police line. "This is not a democracy."
An organizer of the rally on another microphone said the police, who were not wearing riot gear, were only doing their job.
But Dana Smith, 23, who traveled from Wisconsin with Miss Renier, agreed with her friend. "I didn't come here to have a picnic in the park," she said from beneath a black bandana covering her face below her eyes. "It's not enough anymore. It's just not enough."
Several times black-clad protesters tried to provoke officers by running toward the barricade, but they retreated just as quickly.
Brant Olson, a Mobilization for Global Justice organizer, said this weekend's events were only a way for demonstrators to organize for a massive mobilization in the fall to "shut down the World Bank."
"We're going to bring thousands and thousands of people," said Mr. Olson, 24.
From World Bank headquarters at 18th and H streets NW, the demonstrators marched to the Sylvan Theater. Police cars set roadblocks at intersections in front of the marchers. About 100 protesters already at the Sylvan Theater cheered the larger group's arrival after the peaceful half-hour march.
As the band played and the crowd spread out on the lawn, one counterdemonstrator challenged the sincerity of some young white men wearing black T-shirts with revolutionary logos on them.
Tito Munoz argued steadily in English and Spanish in favor of American military aid and stamping out drug use in his native Colombia with a revolving group of protesters.
"You are using Colombia for your own political agenda," said Mr. Munoz, wrapped in a Colombian flag and waving his passport. "You do not represent the feelings of the people of Colombia."
Jabeen Bhatti and Arlo Wagner contributed to this report.

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